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2012 Barcelona Grand Prix

on Sun, 13/05/2012 - 17:00

Barcelona Starting Grid
I'll start by saying that if you're considering traveling to an overseas Grand Prix then I would thoroughly recommend Barcelona and the Circuit de Catalunya. From beginning to end the experience was hassle free and thoroughly enjoyable. Of course the sunny weather helps things along rather nicely.

Circuit de Catalunya is a real spectators circuit with many of the best viewing spots on the grassy banks available under a general admission ticket. There was plenty of space where families, groups of friends and hardcore race fans could be seen sunning themselves and enjoying home made picnics.

Ferrari F1 car
While our grandstand seats weren’t essential, there were times when we were greatful for some shade from the midday sun. During the 3 days we moved from corner to corner between each support race taking in the action from multiple angles; and there was plenty of action to enjoy with GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercup. There wasn’t any of the classic car races that you sometimes see at Silverstone but this was actually quite nice, keeping focus on the main races and making the rest of the event quite relaxed.

Mclaren Grid
We chose to watch qualifying from our seats in the "Grand Stand Principal" just in front of the finish line giving us a great view of the pits and podium. There was plenty of opportunity for some great photos and I've included a few on this page. It was fantastic to see a British driver take pole (although a shame to see him later demoted to the back of the grid for running out of fuel on the way back to the pits). It was also great to see Alonso take 3rd (later 2nd) in front of a strong home crowd and ever passionate Tifosi.

Lotus F1 car
The main race was a spectacle to behold and saw local hero Fernando Alonso move into first place and lead a good portion of the race early on. Unfortunately some poor pit stop timing on the part of Ferrari saw him undercut by promoted pole sitter Pastor Maldonado. The crowd were on the edge of their seats as they watched Alonso battling his way closer to Maldonado only to be denied the win and fall off the pace for the last 8 or so laps. Maldonado’s first win in Formula 1 and Williams first win since 2004 couldn’t have been timed better coinciding with Frank Williams 70th Birthday. It was terrible to see that a pit fire in the Williams garage after the race overshadowed celebrations and left several team members hospitalised - I wish them all a speedy recovery and a well earned rest.

Travel

Lotus Pits

Effortless and inexpensive is how I would describe traveling to Barcelona and the Circuit de Catalunya. Several airlines fly from the UK including flexible low cost options such as EasyJet. On arrival at Barcelona El Prat Airport you can take a 30 minute train straight into the city centre. There are only two platforms and all trains are on the same line going the same way so you can't get lost. Train is also the best way to get out to the circuit so I would recommend purchasing a zone 1-2 multi-trip ticket called "Bonotren" (this covers airport to city and city to circuit and with a 10 trip cards costing €12.95 and being usable by more than one person it is a very inexpensive means of getting around).

Main Straight
Circuit De Catalunya is based in the small town of Montmelo just outside Barcelona (on rail line R2 and within zone 2). You can walk from the station to the circuit, some of the route is up hill but it only takes around 30 minutes to the closest gate. If you follow the crowds you can’t really go wrong. Despite some reports I've read there are footpaths all the way and it is a perfectly safe walk - however a bus is also available if required. The walk takes you through the centre of Montmelo where local businesses are selling reasonably priced sandwiches. We picked up our tickets from the Media Accreditation Centre on the Friday without needing to queue.

Podium
The only time we ever queued was at Montmelo station directly after the main race. While we had to wait for around an hour almost everyone still got a seat so really couldn’t complain. It was nothing in comparison to leaving Silverstone post race.

Accommodation

Flags
Being the second largest city in Spain Barcelona has plenty of places to stay. We chose the Hotel Constanza, a modern centrally located hotel just a 5 minute walk from the station. You can read my full review of Hotel Constanza on the Trip Advisor website

We opted to stay an extra couple of days in Barcelona and found it to be quite relaxing in comparison to other city breaks. There are key sights to see such as the La Sagrada Família but it is really about strolling along the beach or down Las Ramblas.